Taipei, An American EP-3E electronic warfare and reconnaissance aircraft flew southwest of Taiwan Thursday afternoon, the 13th time a U.S. military aircraft has appeared in that area in April, according to a military air movement tracker.
The EP-3E, which exploits a wide range of electronic emissions from deep within targeted territory, was detected in the area between the southern part of the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea, after flying over the Bashi Channel westward, a flight chart posted on Twitter by Aircraft Spots showed.
The U.S. plane had its transponder switched on, allowing itself to be detected by aircraft tracking sites such as Aircraft Spots.
Ministry of National Defense (MND) spokesman Shih Shun-wen (史順文), told reporters that Taiwan’s armed forces closely monitor the country’s surrounding waters and airspace, without directly confirming the aircraft sighting.
Based on a compilation of the MND and Aircraft Spots’ public records, this was the 13th appearance of U.S. military aircraft in the area in this month. Previous sightings involved RC-135U Combat Sents, P-3 Orion anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft other than EP-3Es.
Su Tzu-yun （蘇紫雲）, an analyst at the government-funded Institute for National Defense and Security Research, speculated that U.S. reconnaissance aircraft were in the area to check on the movements of Chinese People’s Liberation Army submarines.
The South China Sea, the Bashi Strait and the Philippine Sea form a corridor where the ocean is deep and suitable for submarine operations, Su said.
The Philippine Sea, located east of the Philippine archipelago, is one of the two ideal missile-launching points for Chinese submarines, as submarine-launched missiles fired in that area are capable of hitting the U.S. mainland, he added.
The other location seen as an optimal point for Chinese submarines to launch a missile attack is the Bohai Sea, on the east coast of China close to the Korean Peninsula, Su said.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel